Champignons and health

Until just recently, champignons have been classified as a so-called functional food product, so they are products having a positive impact on our health. Documented surveys have proved that the presence of various important elements, despite those considered as crucial for the body (mineral salts, proteins, and carbohydrates) is significant. Moreover, therapeutic properties of these mushrooms have been discovered, as biologically active elements can be utilized in the pharmaceutical industry and for the production of cosmetics.

Antitumor properties

In addition to their nutritious properties, champignons are also beneficial when it comes to the optimization of our health and they decrease the risk of numerous illnesses. Antitumor properties (the possibility to block tumor cells developing in the body) of mushrooms were described for the first time by Lucus in 1957. It is believed that the specific antitumor properties are connected with the presence of specific polysaccharides. Recent studies have shown that champignons also have a significant amount of antitumor substances, such as tyrosinase, inhibitors of aromatase, and other polysaccharides having antitumor properties. It has been discovered that champignon extracts prepared by adding hot water to them showed the presence of polysaccharides, which can inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells up to 100 %. While surveying 10 species of mushrooms, it has been observed that in the case of a mouse, the antitumor properties of champignon extract were most powerful in comparison to other mushrooms.

Healing properties of champignon – breast and prostate cancer 

Surveys on the properties of white champignons suggest that they can be used for prevention in the case of breast cancer. It has been discovered, though that they contain a substance, which can inhibit the synthesis of aromatase. The substance is called estrogen. The white champignon extract is responsible for blocking the enzyme responsible for tumor cell development. During surveys on animals, which were based on champignon extracts among others, it has been discovered that they successfully inhibit the development of tumor cells.

A series of surveys based on in vitro and in vivo examinations was held in order to examine the effects of the consumption of white champignons on prostate cancer. Similarly to breast cancer, champignons have a significant preventive role. Champignons have been discovered to contain phytochemical substances, which can inhibit the development of two crucial enzymes: 5-alpha-reductase steroid and aromatase. The 5-alpha-reductase steroid causes the transformation of testosterone into its active form, which is called 5-alpha- dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The active form of testosterone plays an important role in prostate cancer development. Experiments based on treating cells with champignon extracts for 7 days have shown that the extract showed inhibiting properties in the case of prostate cancer cells, which survived hormonal treatment. The beta-glycine has been found to be present in oyster mushrooms and champignon. The bioactive substance has some important oxidizing properties, stimulating the functioning of the immune system. The substance increases the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow, as well as neutralized free radicals, which are responsible for tumor development. Moreover, some scientists state that one of the active substances present in oyster mushrooms – pleurae, can decrease the size of tumors, and the antioxidant substance slows down aging processes and prevents cells from being damaged.

Mushrooms’ impact on cardiovascular diseases 

Mushrooms are also beneficial when it comes to the cardiovascular system, as they decrease cholesterol levels in the blood. Results of numerous surveys suggest that mushrooms are a crucial source of lovastatin, which inhibits functions of the main enzyme responsible for the synthesis of cholesterol. Examinations held in laboratories have shown that consumption decreases the pace of cholesterol absorption from the alimentary tract. The characteristic effect of consumption is a decrease of total concentration of cholesterol in the blood, together with a fraction of lipoproteins, which are also referred to as “the bad cholesterol”. What is more, due to the abundance of cellulose, especially glycan and chitin, the excretion of bile acids can be improved. Moreover, due to the fact that mushrooms are a great source of potassium and are low in sodium, they decrease blood pressure and can decrease the possibility of brain stroke. The Portabello champignons – with black tops – have more potassium than bananas. Moreover, they have much more copper, which is cardio-protective in effect. Regular consumption of oyster mushrooms lowers cholesterol concentration and can lower levels of blood sugar for individuals suffering from diabetes, and in the case of people with arteriosclerosis, the condition of blood vessels can be improved. Substances present in the mushrooms decrease the level of blood sugar and balance cholesterol level.

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